The CEO is the root of the success or failure of his/her company and team. The most important step of the strategies below is the first one. Without it, everything else begins to unravel.
1. Know that your team will never outperform you. If you are a B-player, even your superstars will eventually become C- and D-players. Step up your game.
2. Notice the superstars you encounter. They can be CEOs, salespeople, customer service reps, etc. Today, start making two lists: one of superstar qualities and one of traits you never want to deal with — or have. Continually update these lists.
3. Be honest. For every item on the lists, rate how much of that is you on a scale of 1 to 10. On the superstar list, if you’re below 7, that item needs work. On the slacker list, if you’re a 3 or above, that one does. Commit to this by finding five colleagues and two to three members of your leadership team who you trust, and ask them to rate you.
4. Rate your leadership team on the same list, and have them rate themselves. Have a thoughtful, compassionate conversation with them about your new standard (the superstar list) for yourself and the company. Discuss areas for improvement, how to make that happen, and a timeline for reevaluation.
5. Hire and promote true leaders. These are not people who are promoted because they made the most sales or closed a big deal. Doing that is a testament to their selling skills, not their leadership skills. Using your superstar traits list, create a checklist for evaluating where candidates rank in terms of traits that qualify them for promotion.
6. Create a leadership training program. Bring in outside expertise if necessary.
7. Hire for traits, not resumes. Evaluate each employee position. What are the traits you want each person who fills this role to have? Traits are different than skills. Closing sales is a skill. What are the traits exemplified by someone who has this skill (e.g., tenacity or creativity)? When you interview, look for the traits you want, and train for the skills you need.
8. Create an onboarding program for all new employees. While we’ve been talking about leadership, these are skills and traits you want in all employees. Many will not have them when they start. You may need to hire people who have strong potential. When you do, start molding them into superstars the minute they walk in the door.
9. Invest in creating a superstar culture. You can find specific strategies here. Remember, living this culture applies to everyone, including the CEO.